Intuition is the ability to quickly understand or know something through the senses without having to think or apply logic. Intuition works when you are tormented by a bad feeling or when you find yourself faced with a difficult choice and accidentally make the right decision.
Usually intuition is subjective, appearing spontaneously and, as it may seem, independent of your opinion. And it is more common than you might think. For example, a survey of 36 executives found that 85% of them rely on it to make decisions. There is also research that dentists use flair even more often than they should.
How intuition works and why the brain needs it
Today science considers intuition to be a complex instrument of consciousness that comes from the interaction of the senses, reason, and experience and plays a significant role in cognition and decision-making.
Throughout our lives, our brain notices patterns, connects facts and phenomena with each other, and creates patterns based on them. Most often this happens unintentionally and unconsciously.
Intuition works on such associations. It gives out subconscious emotional information before we make a conscious decision, and helps us not to waste unnecessary resources on thinking. So we learn to predict all kinds of things, down to the consequences of our own actions and the behavior of others.
In fact, it is a different method of knowing and thinking, which is similar to instinct. Although intuition is not always accurate, it works very quickly and does not require much concentration.
It is both common for us to pay more attention to intuitive beliefs than we should, and also for us to underestimate them. For example, we often trust our first impressions, which creates prejudices. Or we abandon the initial right decision, believing it to be spontaneous, in favor of the wrong one.
Should we trust our intuition?
Researchers say that intuition can help you make a decision you won’t later doubt.
For example, Dutch psychologists in 2006 came to the conclusion that intuition works well when many factors need to be considered. They found that those who were guided by their intuition when buying a car or home were 2.5 times more likely to be happy with their purchase than those who took a long time to compare the pros and cons. Experts have called intuition “thinking without thinking”.
But this does not mean that we should abandon rational thinking. Intuition can fail because it only creates tentative hypotheses that need to be tested. “Sixth sense” relies heavily on emotions, and its predictions are often subjective. For example, our intuition can be clouded by negative childhood experiences, complexes, fears, and mental traumas.
Moreover, intuition is unlikely to be useful in areas in which a person is not versed. Or in poorly predictable spheres, such as the global economy.
The accuracy of intuition depends on many things, and everyone has to decide for himself whether to rely on it or not. It is believed that intuition gives the most correct clues when we let it work freely: we don’t think and act “on autopilot”.
Is it true that some people have better intuition?
Everyone is different and has different abilities, which can affect the development of intuition. For example, the ability to perceive and assimilate information is important, as well as a person’s thinking style and how much he or she is willing to rely on intuition. If one does not trust one’s “sixth sense”, it will most likely not be developed.
How to develop your intuition?
Scientists’ knowledge about intuition is still at the level of theory and hypothesis, but you can highlight a few tips that can help.
Make time for reflection: when you don’t have to do anything and can reflect on what is happening or might happen. This will help you make more connections, including non-obvious ones, between people, events, facts, and your own feelings and thoughts. This is where journaling, walking, meditation, and mindfulness practices come in handy.
Listen to your physical sensations
Intuition can manifest itself unobviously. For example, a feeling of heaviness or butterflies in the stomach. That’s because there are about 100 million neurons in the intestines. It is even called the “second brain”.
Of course, this does not mean that the digestive system can think. But it does affect mood. For example, it can reflect negative feelings through physical discomfort. Such signals may indicate intuitive anxiety. So sometimes it is worth listening to such feelings.
Experts from the UK are also convinced that a person’s intuition largely depends on how well he or she monitors his or her heartbeat. For example, an increased heart rate means emotional excitement, which can also be considered a signal.
Everything you do improves your gut. Reading, playing sports, socializing, having fun, working – everything becomes part of the “sixth sense”. And the more you have experience in a certain field, the better your intuition will work in this field. Therefore, if you, for example, want to “read” other people, communicate more and study psychology.